The International Energy Agency (IEA) made headlines when it recently released a report charting a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, a goal that will limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and help avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Planetary Hydrogen, established in 2019, is intent on helping achieve that crucial target, says Jason Vallis, director of External Relations. The company, which grew from a staff of six to 16 in a few short months, has developed negative emissions technology that sequesters carbon dioxide, creates green hydrogen and addresses the problem of ocean acidification.
It has patented a Hydrogen Ocean Air Capture (OAC) technology that enhances the ocean’s natural ability to capture and permanently store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while producing “supergreen” hydrogen that has a negative CO2 footprint.
Called SeaOH2, the system uses renewable electricity to produce hydrogen through electrolysis of water. Adding mineral salt creates an atmosphere-scrubbing compound that ultimately produces an “ocean antacid” that reduces acidification.
“We’re focused on climate restoration,” says Mr. Vallis. “And we’re producing hydrogen that, when used as a fuel or chemical feedstock, enables the transition to a low carbon economy. We’re also helping counter ocean acidification, so it’s a very holistic approach.”
And that’s important, because when it comes to combating the climate crisis, “we need both climate restoration and repair of ocean ecosystems,” he stresses. The oceans have absorbed 90 per cent of the heat generated by climate change and between a quarter and a third of all greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Ocean acidification is threatening coral reefs and sea life, including food sources such as shellfish, lobster and other crustaceans.
“We need to apply the same level of ingenuity and resources to figuring out how the oceans play a role in this, and how we can restore the oceans and the climate at the same time,” says Mr. Vallis. “This needs to be one conversation.”
Planetary Hydrogen recently relocated from Ottawa to Dartmouth to set up a lab, continue R&D and build a pilot plant, expected to be operational by 2022. Initially envisioned to generate 50 kilograms of hydrogen per day, the plan is to scale up to produce enough hydrogen to remove megatonnes of carbon per year by 2030, according to Mr. Vallis.
He says he feels hopeful about meeting the targets set out by the IEA and other international bodies and believes Canada, as an ocean nation with the longest coastline in the world, has a very important role to play in the area of carbon dioxide removal or carbon capture utilization.
“If anyone is going to have leadership on this issue, it should be us,” he adds.
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